Monday, April 6, 2009


Moloka'i by Alan Brennert, 2003 (389 pages)

I decided to read this book after reading lots of rave reviews on the Nest's Book Club board. I knew very little about it when I picked it up, other than the fact that it takes place in Hawaii and that it's historical fiction.

Moloka'i is the name of one of the Hawaiian islands, and in the 19th and part of the 20th centuries, it's where Hawaiians were sent if they had leprosy (or Hansen's disease). The book begins in 1891, following the story of Rachel Kalama and her family. Their world changes drastically when Rachel, at the age of seven, is diagnosed with leprosy. Eventually, she is shipped off to Moloka'i and the leper colony of Kaulapapa. In an effort to stop the spread of the disease, anyone who was found to have leprosy was isolated from everyone else. Even when her family visited her in the "hospital" before she was shipped off, no physical contact could be made.

The story follows Rachel as she grows up. Her story is a very touching one, as it is full of both love and heartache. Rachel learns what it means to lose the people that she loves at a very early age, and yet that never stops her from loving others and being a good person. The book also includes a very interesting perspective of Hawaiian history...the reader learns things as Rachel does; first as a child, then as an outcast who is isolated from the rest of the world. For instance, she is on the island of Moloka'i when Pearl Harbor is attacked. The residents of Kaulapapa hear about it on the radio, and once radio contact ends, they climb to the top of a crater, which allows them to see the smoke billowing up from O'ahu.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It easily held my attention and entertained me through 2 hours of waiting in the terminal and 2 three-hour plane flights yesterday. :) Especially if you enjoy historical fiction, I highly recommend this book.
Total number of books read in 2009: 17
Total number of pages read in 2009: 6718

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